Stony Brook Football’s 28-21 overtime victory over Albany to recapture The Golden Apple Trophy at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Saturday was closer than it should have been, but that did not get Seawolves junior quarterback Joe Carbone down.
“We were excited we got to play more football,” Carbone said. “It’s another opportunity to pad the stats, play some more football, and that’s what we went out and did.”
While not technically wrong, Carbone’s assessment downplays the drama in the final minutes of the contest. Albany tied the game at 21 with 1:34 left in the fourth quarter. Then, with five seconds to go, junior kicker Alex Lucansky attempted a 48-yard field goal for Stony Brook. When that failed, Carbone took the field in overtime and threw two passes to put Stony Brook ahead for good. Even after all that, the Seawolves’ defense had to stand their ground as the Great Danes ran nine fruitless plays inside the 25-yard line.
“Really just happy the ending happened the way it did, cause we work hard,” head coach Chuck Priore said. “You don’t ever deserve to win because you work hard, but you like to see things happen for the good people. This team is a bunch of good people… so, I’m happy for them for that.”
Stony Brook entered overtime having been held scoreless in the second half and faced ending the game without senior wide receiver Ray Bolden – Carbone’s favorite target was injured on the second-to-last play of regulation. Carbone quickly dispatched with any doubt, connecting twice with graduate wide receiver Harrison Jackson for two receptions to traverse the 25 yards they needed to take the lead.
“Ray’s my brother, man. I love that guy,” Jackson said. “I went out there and I wanted to make sure I played my heart out for him because I know that’s what he does every play.”
In college football overtime, each offense gets an opportunity to score from the 25-yard line. Albany won the coin toss and opted to defend first after stonewalling the Stony Brook offense for most of the game. Instead, Carbone and Jackson abused a mismatch with Albany senior corner Jamal Robinson, who is five inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter than Jackson. In one-on-one coverage, Robinson didn’t stand a chance.
“That was all Harrison,” Carbone said. “Harry killed his corner. Twice in a row. Probably the whole game. I probably should’ve thrown it to him more, honestly.”
Carbone, whose renaissance as a playmaker has been vital to the Seawolves’ success this season, finished with 218 yards and two touchdowns on 21-29 passing. His other touchdown came midway through the second quarter on a wide-open pass to junior wide receiver Donavin Washington. Carbone rushed the throw a bit — perhaps stunned by how much room Washington had around him — but Washington covered for his quarterback, completing a one-handed grab en route to the 26-yard score.
The game began nearly as excitingly as it ended. On the opening kickoff, Albany returner Donovan McDonald was hit by Stony Brook redshirt-freshman defensive back Augie Contressa. McDonald fumbled and freshman defensive back Justin Burns recovered for the Seawolves at the Great Danes 16-yard line. Two minutes later, junior running back Donald Liotine Jr. put Stony Brook up with a six-yard touchdown rush.
“It was awesome,” Carbone said, borrowing a phrase Priore had also used to describe the moment. “As a quarterback, there’s nothing you like more than when the defense makes a turnover, when special teams made a turnover.”
The defense forced another fumble later in the first quarter that also led to a Seawolves score. On the first play after a punt, Great Danes freshman running back Karl Mofor took the handoff and met Stony Brook junior linebacker Shayne Lawless in a violent collision. The ball came loose and safety Travon Reid-Segure recovered the fumble at the Albany nine-yard line. Senior running back Stacey Bedell bounced to the right side two plays later and scored the Seawolves’ second touchdown of the day.
Despite these early scores on the ground, Stony Brook rushers had three fumbles and managed only 79 yards over the course of the day. The offensive line was without senior left tackle Timon Parris for the first time since Nov. 23, 2013. In his absence, junior Jonathan Haynes “stepped up and played really well,” Priore said. But senior right tackle Jackson Miller deserved the most praise for his blocking against Albany senior defensive end Malachi Hoskins. Miller held the All-CAA Preseason Team honoree to five tackles and no sacks.
“[Miller] protected Joe against maybe the best pass rusher in the league all game,” Priore said. “And he was flawless. And [during a fourth quarter drive], he stoned the kid three straight times and that’s a great, great thing for Jackson.”
Stony Brook next plays non-conference opponent Wagner at LaValle Stadium in the final home game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m..